AUSTRALIAN CRICKET AWARDS NIGHT
Cricbuzz Staff •
This is the first time since 2014 that any player other than Steve Smith or David Warner has won the AB Medal. © Getty
Pat Cummins won the coveted Allan Border medal after being voted as Australia’s ‘Player of the Year’ at the Australian Cricket awards night on Monday (February 11). The bowling all-rounder gathered as many as 156 votes, finishing ahead of Nathan Lyon (150) and Aaron Finch (146). Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis (102 each) took the next couple of positions to round off the top five. It capped a wonderful year for the 25-year-old, who took as many as 44 Test wickets during the voting period (January 9, 2018 – January 7, 2019), as well as making two half-centuries. This is also the first time since 2014 that any player other than Steve Smith or David Warner has won the award.
Alyssa Healy was the biggest winner in the women’s category, completing a grand treble after being named as the best female player of the year, thereby winning the Belinda Clark medal – in addition to being named as the ODI as well as the T20 player of the year. In 6 ODIs, Healy scored 329 runs at an average of 54.83 and followed it up by being named as ICC’s T20I Player of the year, after her 225 runs at an average of 56.25 helped Australia clinch their fourth World T20 trophy.
In what could only be called as a tumultuous year gone by, Australia awarded its best performers during a glitzy night of celebrations in Melbourne’s Crown Palladium. This season’s award ceremony had been marred with several on-field as well as off-field issues, highlighted by the bans to the then captain, Steven Smith, vice-captain, David Warner and opening batsman, Cameron Bancroft, for their roles in the ‘sandpaper gate’ which rocked the cricketing world during Australia’s tour of South Africa.
While the off-field shenanigans dominated the public discourse, the on-field struggle of a team that was once a mighty force across all the formats of the game, came a close second. Under the captaincy of Tim Paine, Australia lost the series in South Africa (coming in the wake of the sandpaper fiasco), were soundly beaten by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), lost a home Test series for the first time ever to India and then capped off the home summer with an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka.
Still, the growth and maturity shown by Paine, the new finds in Travis Head, Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne, the coming of age of Pat Cummins and the all-round quality Australian bowling attack, under the able guidance of head coach, Justin Langer, has meant that the worst could be over, especially with Smith and Warner expected to be rehabilitated back into the national team before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, starting in May.
The night started with Marcus Stonis, who has been very consistent in the white-ball format of the game being named as the ‘ODI player of the year’. The all-rounder had been exceptional with both bat and ball and is seen as one of Australia’s brightest talent, having also been named in the Test team for the second Test in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.
Victoria’s Will Pucovski, who was named in the Test squad but didn’t get to feature in the final eleven during the recent series against Sri Lanka, received the Don Bradman award for the best young male cricketer while Georgia Wareham, received the Betty Wilson award for the best young female cricketer.
Lyon enjoyed an outstanding year on a personal level, becoming only the sixth Australian bowler to go past 300 Test wickets. With 341 wickets to his name, he’s currently fourth in the list of highest wicket-takers for Australia, only behind Shane Warne (709), Glenn McGrath (564) and Dennis Lillee (355). The off-spinner took 49 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 34.80, comfortably ending at the top of the ladder amongst the highest wicket-takers for Australia in the just completed season, making him the unanimous choice for the ‘Test player of the year’ award.
Glenn Maxwell also walked away with an award after being named as the T20 Player of the year, beating his nearest rivals, Finch and D’Arcy Short. Apart from being a crowd-puller, Maxwell enjoyed another fine year in the shortest format of the game and under his leadership, Melbourne Stars are in the knock-out stage in the ongoing Big Bash League.
New South Wales and Sydney Sixers captain, Moises Henriques, was named as Australia Cricket Awards’ inaugural Community Champion for his role in raising awareness with regard to mental health issues surrounding the game. Matthew Wade, the Tasmanian and Hobart Hurricanes wicket-keeper batsman walked away with the men’s Domestic player of the year award while Western Australia and Perth Scorchers’ Heather Graham won the corresponding award for the women category.
Former Australia number three and presently a famous voice on several broadcasting channels, Dean Jones was inducted into the Australian Cricketers Hall of Fame. The dashing batsman was joined by Billy Murdoch and Cathryn Fitzpatrick, as the trio were honoured for their services to the game.
The winners of the various awards were decided through a ballot system with the player getting the maximum number of votes chosen for each individual honour. The voting period for each award transcended across the 2017-18 season to that of 2018-19. As per Cricket Australia regulations, each performance in a Test match weighs 6 points, an ODI has a weightage of 3 and T20s carrying 2 points. Players, umpires and media voted for the Allan Border medal on a 3-2-1 basis.